Mumbai: Optimism, confidence, and hope – that was the atmosphere ahead of the launch of the T20 Mumbai League’s second season as Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar, legendary cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar graced the occasion.
While the tournament’s debut season produced some thrilling finishes, Tendulkar, the league’s brand ambassador promised that the league will be better and bigger.
“I feel with this T20 league’s performance that a number of careers have started. I think four or five players were picked up by IPL teams to represent their teams. I think it’s the beginning and when we compare ourselves to somewhere like Punjab, there are 14 members playing for regular teams, I am sure we can build that,” the 46-year-old said here on Monday.
While the tournament has helped some of the players to get an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract, Gavaskar was optimistic that more of the same will happen in the upcoming edition set to kick off on 14 May.
The 69-year-old also went onto say that the tournament was outstanding in its own ways when compared to other state leagues.
“We all saw what the Mumbai T20 League did last year, and what is exciting to see is that we have got state leagues around the country. We have got the Tamil Nadu Premier League, Karnataka Premier League and there are other leagues as well, but I think the Mumbai T20 League was outstanding,” Gavaskar said.
“Some of the players that came through were really good. Few of them have got an IPL contract and I am pretty certain that there will be many more coming through from this league who will be wanted by the IPL franchises for the next season,” he added. Because of that, Gavaskar felt that the league should be scheduled ahead of the IPL auction.
“I do believe that the Mumbai Cricket Association must try and schedule this just before the auction. I know it is very difficult with Ranji Trophy and the rest of the Indian domestic first-class season, but if you do schedule it just before the auction, it will make a big difference because when we look today at the representation of the states in the IPL teams, you will find that the Mumbai representation isn't adequate. When I say representation, I don’t mean the Test players, but I mean those who have played first-class cricket just before that,” Gavaskar said.
Mumbai T20 League’s mentor Vengsarkar, meanwhile, said that the youngsters who played in the last season would have been acclimatised to the conditions at the Wankhede Stadium.
“MPL (Mumbai T20 League) last year was a big tournament. I think I watched most of the matches last year and I think there were a few players who were playing at the Wankhede Stadium for the first time and also under lights. I am sure by now they would be acclimatized to the lights and the atmosphere at the Wankhede Stadium,” he said.
He added that the Mumbai Cricket Association has produced some fine young cricketing talents.
“Hopefully, we will see some outstanding cricket because the MCA has produced some fantastic players in the Under-19, Under-23, and first-class cricket. I think they are hungry for success,” the 63-year-old stated.
While there were six teams last season, this time there will be eight teams vying for the trophy. The tournament set to run from 14-26 May, and will have a group stage followed by the semi-finals and the final.
The opening day will witness newcomers Aakash Tigers Mumbai Western Suburbs take on defending champions Triumph Knights Mumbai North East. That match will be followed by a clash between ARCS Andheri and SoBo Supersonics.